Past Goodfellows Presidents Henry Guthard Jr., Mike Kijewski and Henry Guthard Sr. join current President Marshall Hunt at the Goodfellows best-dressed doll competition Nov. 19. With them are judges Emily Stanczak, of Auburn Hills, left, and Amaria Clark of Redford, right, and journalist Neal Rubin, center, with the top three dolls.

Past Goodfellows Presidents Henry Guthard Jr., Mike Kijewski and Henry Guthard Sr. join current President Marshall Hunt at the Goodfellows best-dressed doll competition Nov. 19. With them are judges Emily Stanczak, of Auburn Hills, left, and Amaria Clark of Redford, right, and journalist Neal Rubin, center, with the top three dolls.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Detroit Goodfellows host annual best-dressed doll competition

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published November 21, 2018

 Darlyn Robinson, of Redford, was among those who dressed and decorated dolls for the Detroit Goodfellows this year.

Darlyn Robinson, of Redford, was among those who dressed and decorated dolls for the Detroit Goodfellows this year.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Rosie the Riveter was chosen as the best-dressed doll in the Detroit Goodfellows’ doll competition this year.

Rosie the Riveter was chosen as the best-dressed doll in the Detroit Goodfellows’ doll competition this year.

Photo by Deb Jacques

DETROIT — Each year, the Detroit Goodfellows send out thousands of Christmas bundles filled with gifts to local children to ensure there’s something under the tree on Christmas morning.

Among the items included in the packages are dolls that have been individually dressed and decorated by volunteers from across the metro Detroit area. With the Christmas season set to begin, the Goodfellows kicked off their collection efforts with a competition to select the best-dressed doll.

“It’s a way to highlight the work our doll dressers do,” said Goodfellows Executive Director Sari Klok-Schneider. “It’s a good kickoff for the holiday fundraising season, and it’s such a nice, visual way to show people what we’re doing.” 

The competition took place Nov. 19 in the lobby of Comerica Bank’s Michigan market headquarters, with the dolls on display for those to see as they passed by. Comerica Bank is one of the corporate supporters of the Goodfellows, and its employees are a key part of the doll-dressing efforts.

“It’s been a long-standing relationship with the Goodfellows,” said Patricia McCann, the national employee volunteer manager for Comerica Bank. “We have been dressing dolls for about 20 years. We dress about 800 to 900 dolls each year, and it’s part of our support for the community.”

Volunteers start dressing the dolls in February and continue on throughout the year. In September, the Goodfellows begin collecting the dolls and preparing them for distribution around Christmas.

“This is the citywide contest,” explained McCann. “Those who dress the dolls can choose to enter it into the competition for best-dressed, and Goodfellows judges them. We’ve hosted the competition for four years.”

The Goodfellows select two judges to pick the best dolls; the judges come from the Goodfellows’ target demographic: young girls. They look through dozens of submitted dolls to pick their favorites.

“We want to pick the top 10 best dressed and then pick a best in show,” said Klok-Schneider. “We have two judges between the ages of 8 and 12 go through and narrow them down through process of elimination.”

The two judges this year were 9-year-old Emily Stanczak, of Auburn Hills, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Goodfellows board members; and 10-year-old Amaria Clark, from Redford, the daughter of a Comerica employee.

“This was so fun because we got to see all the dolls,” said Emily. “(Amaria and I) would get together to choose which ones we thought were best.”

Emily chose a doll modeled after Rosie the Riveter as her top pick, while Amaria picked a doll in a fancy black dress accompanied by a furry friend.

“I like the one with the dog,” Amaria said. “It had a nice dress with sparkles at the end. Me and Emily both liked that one.”

“I liked the ones you can have a reason to play with them,” added Emily. “Some were really pretty, but my favorites were the ones you would actually want to play with.”

The dolls came in a variety of styles and outfits — everything from poodle-skirt-wearing cheerleaders to disco dancers to Wonder Woman was submitted for the competition.

Those who make the dolls see it as a chance to get creative and provide something fun and unique for the kids getting the Christmas parcels.

“We dress about 200 dolls,” said Darlyn Robinson, the doll coordinator for the Detroit IRS office and a member of the Goodfellows. “When I was growing up, I liked the dolls that were girly and had outfits you could take on and off or switch the outfits for. Those are the kinds of dolls we like to make for the kids.”

Those supporting the effort stressed that it is important for thousands of families each year, and receiving a gift like this can be influential on a young person’s life.

“Their mission of ‘No Kiddie Without a Christmas’ is an important one,” said McCann. “Their long-standing history in the community goes along with our long-standing history in the community. It’s something we’ve always done and we want to continue to do.”

The Goodfellows also hope this will remind people that the group’s efforts need fresh support each year to keep the charitable tradition going.

“We’ve been making sure there’s no kiddie without a Christmas since 1914,” said Goodfellows board President Marshall Hunt. “We’re planning on distributing more than 33,000 packages around the Detroit area. We also have a free shoe program and a dental program and some summer camps we put on, but this is our biggest effort of the year.”

For more information, or to contribute to the Goodfellows, visit www.detroitgoodfellows.org.